The following is a letter that was submitted to the Suffolk County Planning Commission on January 3rd, 2017 in response to their solicitation of public comments regarding their review of Heartland Town Square.
Richard Murdocco’s Public Comments Re: Heartland Town Square
My name is Richard Murdocco, and I am the founder and publisher of The Foggiest Idea. I am writing to share my public comment regarding the Suffolk County Planning Commission’s review of Heartland Town Square.
I have extensively written on, lectured about, and researched this proposal; from my senior thesis at Fordham University, sharing my thoughts of the project to a variety of local civic organizations, to authoring articles in Long Island Pulse Magazine and the Long Island Press, to sharing my project analysis live on-air for coverage from WSHU Public Radio.
Overall, Heartland is a fascinating project due to its sheer scale, and we must respect that this effort is the culmination of decades of work. However, we must be cautious when it comes to granting final approvals on anything of this magnitude.
My concerns rest in the ability of Suffolk County to give an unbiased assessment of not only the immediate impacts this massive project will bring, but how the region will absorb Heartland’s sizable commercial, retail, and residential footprint. With other large projects of similar mixed composition being built from the ground up across both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, it is concerning to see such a large influx of density being considered without a complete understanding of how, exactly, all these efforts will work together.
Since it is likely this project will move forward in one form or another, I formally request that the Suffolk County Planning Commission urge the Town of Islip to build the project in a series of “dynamic phases.” With the completion of each phase of construction, it should be the job of this commission and its members to assess the overall impact each component of Heartland has had on the surrounding community. This would be an ongoing effort, and each phase would have to be assessed on its own merits and prevalent market conditions.
Aspects to be studied must include residential and commercial vacancy rates within each Heartland phase, as well as within other projects of regional significance that will be affected. The increased burdens on local roads, highways, wastewater systems, as well as other critical indicators of Long Island’s real estate markets should also be measured.
As of late, it would seem that Suffolk County seeks to build such projects first, and ask questions regarding the impacts of development second. It is troubling that a project of this size and scope is seriously being considered without measurable progress in fortifying our local infrastructure systems to handle the demand it will generate, or a complete understanding of how the project will resonate across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
I am hopeful that the Suffolk County Planning Commission will use its expertise to ensure that Heartland Town Square is a product of sound planning that won’t oversaturate our real estate markets.
The Foggiest Idea